Tag Archives: restaurant

SPAGO

It may be a surprise to some, but I don’t attend very many hosted (free) dinners. Like most food writers, I get email invites from restaurant PR firms often, and if I wanted to, I could eat gratis (lunch AND dinner) practically every day of the week.

SPAGO, Beverly HillsThe fact is, Peter and I are happy to pay for good food and love supporting chefs and restaurants, especially here in Los Angeles.

From a local burger joint to the best restaurant in town, we enjoy (and usually pay for) it all. We don’t have children (except our pups of course!), so our disposable income goes towards food and travel.

Throughout the year we’ll attend a few “friends and family” meals (restaurant pre-opening dinners), grand openings and the occasional new menu preview. In exchange for blog coverage (more importantly, twitter coverage), we have the pleasure of sharing a beautiful meal at the courtesy of the restaurant. NOTE: We ALWAYS make sure to leave a hefty tip for the staff.

Wolfgang Puck’s legendary SPAGO restaurant went through a major remodel in 2012, so I was thrilled to get an invite for Peter and myself recently.

About the remodel (from Spago’s website):
Wolfgang Puck and Barbara Lazaroff’s legendary, flagship restaurant features a completely new menu and design. The master chef, along with Executive Chef and Managing Partner Lee Hefter, has re-invented the entire menu with his signature farm-to-table philosophy, heightening the iconic California cuisine Puck catapulted to stardom. Spago’s new design from Waldo Fernandez complements the food with its clean and simple aesthetic, incorporating natural elements to add an organic feel.

The California Tasting Menu was, as expected, quite exquisite. My favorite dish was actually the one I was LEAST excited about when perusing the menu. If you’re dining at SPAGO and see “Savory Oatmeal” listed anywhere, please do not dismiss it like I did. I still can’t stop thinking about the comforting texture (from the wild nettle), the subtle spiciness (from the ‘Nduja) mixed together with the uni’s awesomely, creamy funk.

Hoping to spoil mom for Mother’s Day? Check out the incredible brunch menu (with over 25 choices) here. Dishes include Ricotta-Lemon Blintzes with Wild Huckleberry Compote (for her sweet tooth) and Veal Filet Mignon Tartare with Warm Tarragon Vinaigrette. The cost is $70 per person for three courses (a bargain at SPAGO!), $35 per child (under 9 years).  This is the only brunch scheduled for the entire year and begins at 11am until 2:30pm, Sunday, May 11, 2014.

My photos from SPAGO’s Spring “California Tasting Menu”

Bread Service at SPAGO, Beverly Hills
Bread service includes the lavash cracker with pumpkin seeds.

Sterling Farm's White Sturgeon Caviar, SPAGO
Sterling Farm’s White Sturgeon Caviar with “Sunny side up egg” (egg white caviar, egg yolk jam), Rye Crisp, Potato Chip Espuma.

California Abalone, Nagatoshi Farm's Cucumber Sorbet at SPAGO, Beverly Hills
California Abalone, Nagatoshi Farm’s Cucumber Sorbet with Clarified Gazpacho.

California Abalone, Nagatoshi Farm's Cucumber Sorbet at SPAGO, Beverly Hills
Closeup shot.

White Nettle Savory Oatmeal w Uni  at SPAGO, Beverly Hills
White Nettle Savory Oatmeal w Uni, ‘Nduja Sausage, Mushroom Emulsion, Garlic Flower.

White Nettle Savory Oatmeal w Uni  at SPAGO, Beverly Hills
Another photo of the uni oatmeal.

"Arare" Rice Cracker Crusted Santa Barbara Spot Prawn at SPAGO, Beverly Hills
“Arare” Rice cracker-crusted Santa Barbara Spot Prawns, Thai Red Curry, Coconut Emulsion, Eggplant Compote, Cilantro Blossom, Basil Caviar. 

Hand Made Agnolotti  at SPAGO, Beverly Hills
Hand Made Agnolotti with McGrath Farm’s English Peas, Parmigiana Reggiano.

Genmai Tea Smoked Liberty Duck Breast at SPAGO, Beverly Hills
Genmai Tea Smoked Liberty Duck Breast with Burdock Root, Fava Beans, Wild Flowers, Miso Cured Egg Yolk Powder.

Sonoma Spring Lamb Rack at SPAGO, Beverly Hills
Sonoma Spring Lamb Rack and Braised Bell with Spring Vegetables, Cumin-Carrot Puree.

A few of the wines on Spago's Spring Tasting Menu
A few of the wines on Spago’s Spring Tasting Menu:
Caraccioli Brut Rose paired with abalone.
Wind Gap Trousseau Gris paired with savory oatmeal & uni.
Galerie Sauv Blanc paired with prawn.
Wenzlau Chardonnay paired with agnolotti.
Black Kite Pinot Noir paired with duck.
Araujo Cabernet paired with lamb.

Unfortunately I was too full for sweets! (Lucky Peter!)

SPAGO
176 North Canon Dr.
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
(310) 385-0880
website

Dining date: 4/23/14

California (April 2014) Tasting Menu $145 pp
California Wine $75 pp

This meal was hosted.

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Tres by José Andrés

Tres by José Andrés is located in the lobby of the SLS Hotel, just to the right of the Bazaar’s entrance. My love for Chef Andrés (and his cooking) have been well documented (links below), so of course I had to reserve a night to experience the “sophisticated and secluded sanctuary peppered with cozy nooks, books and fireplaces, blending the soul of home with the luxury of exceptional dining and service.” (Right On!)

Tres by José AndrésI’d been to the space near the hotel check-in many times before, usually to have a quick drink before the Bazaar opened next door (I like going early). For those of you who haven’t been to the Bazaar because the concept seems a bit, well BIZARRE… think about dining at Tres next door, a sort of “Bazaar Prelude” if you will. The flavors are the same, just served up in a more casual setting, without the showy (fun!), modern techniques (which I personally love).

From the Tres website:
“Culinary highlights at Trés include daily afternoon tea and weekend brunch infused with Chef Andrés’ unique perspective. Brunch features tabletop displays of caviar, cheese and cured meats, specialty smoked salmon and inventive egg dishes, accompanied by crafty cocktails ranging from Cava mimosas to a Brazilian Screwdriver made with freshly pressed tangerines. Afternoon tea, served seven days a week, showcases traditional sweets and savories paired with a premium selection of distinctive teas and coffees.”

Dinner at Tres:

Tres by José Andrés
Ultimate Vodka Tonic (can order with Gin of course)

Tres by José Andrés
Roasted Tomato and Burrata Salad: Crispy Air Breads, Basil, Arugula, Lemon Verbena Dressing

Tres by José Andrés
Patatas Bravas Chips with Brava Sauce, Aoli

Tres by José Andrés
Croquetas de Jamón: Serrano Ham and Bechamel fritters

Tres by José Andrés
Inside the Croquetas de Jamón: Serrano Ham and Bechamel fritters

Tres by José Andrés
Herb Roasted Ham and Cheese: Tomme De Savoie Cheese, Caramelized Onions, Herbs

Tres by José Andrés
Grilled Omaha New York Strip Steak with Piqullo Peppers and Homemade Fries

Our good friend (Bazaar’s pastry chef) Waylynn Lucas stopped by our table at Tres to say hello, so we popped over to the Bazaar’s Patisserie after dinner at Tres.

After Tres, to Bazaar's Patisserie!
Peter at the Patisserie

After Tres, to Bazaar's Patisserie!
So pretty and playful!

After Tres, to Bazaar's Patisserie!
Lovely Lissette filling up a gorgeous pink box with assorted chocolates!
Note: The SLS Hotel is supporting Breast Cancer Awareness Month (Oct). More info here

Candy gone, of course now it's my favorite jewelry box!
After Peter finished the candy, I wiped out and added some favorite jewelry pieces! Love, Love, Love my new jewelry box!

With Jose Andres, MyLastBite.comAll my recent Tres photos

Tres by José Andrés
SLS Hotel
465 S La Cienega Blvd
Los Angeles, California 90048
(310) 246-5555
Website Includes full menus for Breakfast/Brunch/Tea/Lunch/Dinner

Dining Date: 10/16/10 (with Peter)

Make a reservation

The Bazaar by José Andrés – Concept

The Bazaar by José Andrés – Over 200 Photos from my many visits

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Rivera

Peter and I need to spend more time in downtown L.A. I can only think of a few eateries that we’ve been to lately: Church & State, Wurstküche and Rivera (which was way back in May), and I just realized that I hadn’t yet posted photos from our wonderful Rivera dinner!

We were joined by Andrew Camp, who was then the fromaggier at Palate Food & Wine. Andrew and I began exchanging emails, after he requested to use some photos I took of him at Palate for his website. Soon after, we were FaceBook pals and happily, pals in real life too.

Our evening at Rivera was excellent, and I personally felt Chef John Sedlar’s sense of joy and fun on each delicious plate. If, like me, you like an adventurous cocktail every once in a while, then you’ll love hanging out in the gorgeous bar as well. Ever had a drink garnished with finely ground crickets?

Rivera, MyLastBite.com
The Donaji, made with Mezcal, Citrus, Pomegranate, Agave Nectar and Chapulin Salt (finely ground crickets!!)

Rivera, MyLastBite.com
Progression of Stuffed Olives (Such a clever idea! Don’t they look happy?): Orange, Black Bean, Anchovy, Ham, Cheese $12

Rivera, MyLastBite.com
Tortillas Florales (best I’ve ever tasted) with “Indian Butter” aka Guacamole $7

Rivera, MyLastBite.com
Chile Pasilla Relleno  (so GOOD but I didn’t want to mess up the plate!) $10

Rivera, MyLastBite.com
(of course I messed up the plate!)

Rivera, MyLastBite.com
Banana Leaf Braised Pork Shoulder $24 (Loved the crispy potatoes) and Carne Churrasco with Cabrales on top $29 (I would order BOTH again).

Rivera, MyLastBite.comNo photograph of dessert: Studio en flan (three differently flavored flans) $8

Dining Date: 5/23/09

If you haven’t been to Rivera yet, you’re in luck! Rivera is participating in DineLA’s Restaurant Week, which begins on October 4th. Special three-course meals at Rivera are $22 for lunch and $34 dinner.

Rivera’s Restaurant Week Menu

DineLA Week is Oct 4-9 and 11-16 2009

L.A. Times Review of Rivera

For more Rivera details including STUNNING food photos, check out KevinEats

Andrew as Fromaggier at Palate

Andrew’s Blog

Church and State

Wurstküche

Palate Food & Wine

More Rivera photos on Flickr “Chefs & Restaurants”

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Mozza 2Go!

Mozza 2 Go, MyLastBite.comSince our very first visit to Pizzeria Mozza (Christmas Eve 2006), Peter and I have continuously wished for two things: That Mozza would offer a Pizza-to-go / Delivery service, and that Nancy Silverton would make a pizza with chicken liver, guanciale and burrata. If you love Mozza’s Chicken Liver Bruschetta, then you’d understand how amazing this dream pie could be.

Last Thursday, when I learned (via @Foodwoolf on Twitter) that “Mozza 2Go” was OPEN, I immediately texted my husband and wrote, “DO NOT MAKE PLANS TOMORROW!” 

Peter had Friday off from work, and up to that moment, we had no actual plans for the 3rd of July. I searched online to find an opening time for Mozza 2Go, but the closest thing to actual hours listed (at that time) was an Eater LA article stating that, “the first order accepted at noon and the last order at 11:00 pm”.

Thinking there would be a line around the block (hey, it’s Mozza after all!), I told Peter we should plan on getting there by 10:30 AM. I figured we could order a pie, eat it there and then do some shopping at the Grove afterwards. There’s a Mac Store at the Grove… and Peter was obsessed about getting his new iPhone. All I wanted was to check out the new Mozza 2Go. It was a “win win” situation for sure.

By 10:45 am, the only people visible at Mozza 2Go were locksmiths working on the doors to the Scuola di Pizza (Pizza School) next door. I took several photographs of the exterior and called the Mozza 2Go phone number. The lovely voice on the recording noted that they were open Tuesday through Sunday, and that the phone lines opened at 11:00 am, with the first order availalable at noon. The message also said to check the Mozza2Go.com website for more details, but as of that morning (Friday July 3rd), the site was not yet online (Peter kept checking with his old iPhone).

So, we waited. “Mozza Groupies”, just the two of us. I kept calling the number and got the same recording… over and over again. At 11:30, we (meaning Peter) decided we should drive to the Grove and come back afterwards. My iPhone-obsessed husband traipsed off to the Mac store, while I impatiently shopped at World Market and Sur La Table (both stores are near the parking lot).

At about one o’clock we finally got back in the car (Peter flying high from his 3Gs iPhone purchase), and drove back to Highland and Melrose. The sidewalk was still empty, but Mozza 2Go was finally OPEN! Yes, some wishes do come true!

No crowds yet, just us and another couple waiting to order pizza. For some reason (hunger?) I thought we could order a pizza and have the choice of either eating there or taking it home, but of course it’s called “Mozza 2Go”! After a quick look around (they sell the chicken liver AND the Budino to go!), we decided to try to get a table at Pizzeria Mozza around the corner. Having skipped breakfast, we were both, by then, famished and a little cranky (at least I was, Peter was playing with his shiny new toy). 

During the end of our lunch at Pizzeria Mozza (photos & link below), Peter called Mozza 2GO and ordered a Fennel Sausage Pizza for us to pick up afterwards. We figured we may as well try the 2Go service since we were there, and heck… we never get sick of Mozza!

When we got back to Mozza 2Go, I was curious about the Pizza School next door. “Where do I sign up?” was the first question out of my mouth, but it turns out it’s for private events only, with a max of 45 “students” per class. A press release was recently sent out that noted, “In addition to pizza training the Scuola will be home to a variety of cooking demos, wine tastings and other culinary exploits”. I asked about the cost for a private pizza class (with 44 of my nearest and dearest), but no one had any answers yet. My birthday isn’t until March, so there’s plenty of time for Peter to sort that out.

Mozza 2 Go, MyLastBite.com
 Mozza 2Go Entrance / Awning

Mozza 2 Go, MyLastBite.com
Scuola di Pizza front window (to the left of Mozza 2Go).

Mozza 2 Go, MyLastBite.com
Mozza 2Go Entrance.

Mozza 2 Go, MyLastBite.com
Imported goodies for sale.

Mozza 2 Go, MyLastBite.com
That’s Butterscotch Budino on the top right shelf!

Mozza 2 Go, MyLastBite.com
Mozza 2Go Menu.

Mozza 2 Go, MyLastBite.com
Butterscotch Budino to GO! Make sure you get the Rosemary Pinenut Cookie with it.

Mozza 2 Go, MyLastBite.com
Monini Olive Oil used in the Mozza kitchens. (Nancy participates in this olive oil coop in Italy).

Mozza 2 Go, MyLastBite.com
Counter goodies. (Partial of Nancy Silverton) 

Mozza 2 Go, MyLastBite.com
Peter paying for our treats.

Mozza 2 Go, MyLastBite.com
At the counter.

Mozza 2 Go, MyLastBite.com
Scuola di Pizza (Pizza School) next to Mozza 2Go.

Mozza 2 Go, MyLastBite.com
Looking from Mozza 2Go into Scuola di Pizza.

Mozza 2 Go, MyLastBite.com
Pizza boxes on the shelves at Scuola di Pizza.

Mozza 2 Go, MyLastBite.com
Our pizza (Fennel Sausage, Panna, Red Onion $15) outside of Mozza 2Go.

Mozza 2 Go, MyLastBite.com
I love Nancy’s signature on the pizza box sticker! (Yes, I saved it)

Mozza 2 Go, MyLastBite.com
Fennel Sausage, Panna, Red Onion Mozza 2Go Pizza –
PERFECT 
at home!

Mozza 2Go
Scuola di Pizza

6610 Melrose Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90038
323 297 1130

Website

Hours: 12pm – 11pm
Closed Monday
Free 15 minute parking for take out orders available behind Mozza 2 Go.

Dining date: July 3, 2009

All Mozza 2Go Photos on Flickr

Mentioned above:

Lunch at Pizzeria Mozza

@Foodwoolf

Eater LA

The Grove

World Market

Sur la Table

iPhone

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Pizzeria Mozza – 7/03/09

Pizzeria Mozza, MyLastBite.comWhile waiting for the new Mozza 2 Go to open last Friday, my husband Peter and I decided to get some lunch at Pizzeria Mozza, which is right around the corner. We’ve never gone to Mozza just for the pizza, although they certainly do make our favorite pies in town.

If you were to ask us separately, what our favorite pizza was at Mozza, there is no doubt we would both say, “Chicken liver and Guanciale”. It doesn’t actually exist, but we pretend like it does by each ordering our own serving of Bruschetta with Chicken Livers, Capers, Parsley & Guanciale (three pieces each). It’s the one dish that Peter and I always crave, so whenever we sit down for a bite at the pizzeria, we treat the chicken liver on bruschetta like the “main course”, then split a pizza “on the side”.

I want to note here that the bread that comes with the chicken liver is beautiful. The bruschetta is warm, crispy and is a sturdy vehicle for the creamy chicken liver. I have no complaints about the bread, but I just think the chicken liver mixture would be stellar on Mozza’s light and airy pizza crust. The dough could be cooked with just a little olive oil in the wood-burning oven, then topped with chicken liver, guanciale and burrata while still warm. 

This brilliant idea of ours hasn’t made it on the menu yet, even though we hint anytime we see Nancy at a food festival or at the restaurant. I was thrilled to learn that Mozza 2 Go will be selling their chicken liver for take-out as well, so you can bet I’ll be having some fun whipping up my dreamy concoction at home!

The pizza (that we shared) on this visit was a luscious Egg, Bacon, Yukon gold Potato & Bermuda Onion Pizza. We also each had a quartino of Bastianich Tocai Friulano wine, and it was a perfect start to the holiday weekend.

Pizzeria Mozza, MyLastBite.com
Bruschette: Chicken Livers, Capers, Parsley & Guanciale

Pizzeria Mozza, MyLastBite.com
Egg, Bacon, Yukon gold Potato & Bermuda Onion Pizza, Photo 1

Pizzeria Mozza, MyLastBite.com
Photo 2

Pizzeria Mozza, MyLastBite.com
Photo 3

Pizzeria Mozza
641 N. Highland Ave. Los Angeles,
California 90036
(323) 297-0101
mozza-la.com

Dining date: July 3, 2009

Mozza 2 Go (my first visit)

Bastianich Tocai Friulano

Mozza 2 Go (website)

About Guanciale

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Taste of the Nation 2009

TasteBanner1

What exactly is Taste of the Nation?

Taste of the Nation '09, MyLastBite“Share Our Strength’s Taste of the Nation Los Angeles is one of 55 events across America dedicated to ending hunger in America. Each summer, LA’s hottest chefs and mixologists donate their time, talent and passion at the Taste of the Nation event at Media Park in Culver City to raise the critical funds needed to end childhood hunger by supporting our local recipients.” more info

Tickets cost $125 this year. Where does the money go?

“In Los Angeles, 100% of ticket sales will be divided among five charities that are working to end hunger. Among them are Los Angeles Regional Food Bank and Los Angeles Coalition to End Hunger & Homelessness.” more info

Was it worth it?

ABSOLUTELY. Besides supporting the wonderful cause, we got to eat some delicious samples from some of L.A.’s top dining spots including (to name a few): Akasha, Angeli Caffe, Animal, The Bazaar, Beso, BLT, Church & State, Craft, Fig, Ford’s Filling Station, Fraiche/Riva, Gelato Bar, Grace/BLD, Jar, Katsuya, Mozza, Rivera, XIV Michael Mina and more!

If you missed it this year, please enjoy these photos… and definitely think about joining the fun in 2010.

Taste of the Nation '09, MyLastBite
The first booth at Taste of the Nation? My pals at the Bazaar!

Taste of the Nation '09, MyLastBite.com
The Bazaar’s Jamon Iberico

Taste of the Nation '09, MyLastBite
The Bazaar’s Felix Meana next to the Liquid Nitrogen!

Taste of the Nation '09, MyLastBite
Lucas Paya making the Nitro Margarita with Salt Air

Taste of the Nation '09, MyLastBite
Nitro Margaritas with Salt Air

Taste of the Nation '09, MyLastBite
Tomatos with Liquid Mozzerella Pipettes, Liquid Olives “Ferran Adria”

Taste of the Nation '09, MyLastBite
The Bazaar’s Chef Jorge Chicas

Taste of the Nation '09, MyLastBite
First row of restaurants at Taste of the Nation

Taste of the Nation '09, MyLastBite.com
Ford’s Filling Station’s Booth

Taste of the Nation '09, MyLastBite.com
Ford’s Filling Station’s Meyer Angus Beef Sliders with Hook Cheddar Cheese

Taste of the Nation '09, MyLastBite.com
Confit Duck with Farro and Cherry by Fig Restaurant

Taste of the Nation '09, MyLastBite.com
Locanda Del Lago’s Vitello Tonnato: Roasted and Sliced Veal Tenderloin in Creamy Tuna-Caper Aioli

Taste of the Nation '09, MyLastBite
The always cheerful Chef Walter Manzke (Church at State) with his awesome PIG burgers!!

Taste of the Nation '09, MyLastBite.com
Rivera’s BEAUTIFUL Tortillas Florales with Verde Shrimp Salsa by Chef John Sedlar

Taste of the Nation '09, MyLastBite.com
On the grill: Rivera’s Tortillas Florales

Taste of the Nation '09, MyLastBite.com
Katsuya’s deep-fried roll of Tuna & Foie Gras with micro greens

Taste of the Nation '09, MyLastBite.com
Katsuya’s Tuna Chirashi

Taste of the Nation '09, MyLastBite.com
XIV – Michael Mina’s Sweet Corn Soup (with pork belly)

Taste of the Nation '09, MyLastBite.com
Craft’s CRISPY Pork Belly with Summer Corn and Tomato Medley

Taste of the Nation '09, MyLastBite.com
Nobu’s Famous Miso Marinated Black Cod with Butter Lettuce

Taste of the Nation '09, MyLastBite.com
Lobster with Caviar and Potato Gaufrettes

Taste of the Nation '09, MyLastBite.com
Simon LA’s Ahi Tuna with Fava Bean Puree and Tomato Olive sauce

Taste of the Nation '09, MyLastBite.com
Gelato Bar’s Allessandro Fontana, Gail Silverton and Joel Gutman (love the Lemon-Basil)

Taste of the Nation '09, MyLastBite.com
Akasha Restaurant’s Meyer’s Hanger Steak, Mcgrath Farms Red Butter Lettuce, Heirloom Tomato, Mustard Oil, Shaft Blue Cheese Bacon Dressing

Taste of the Nation '09, MyLastBite.com
Chef Akasha Richmond of Akasha Restaurant.

Taste of the Nation '09, MyLastBite.com
Jar’s Chef Suzanne Tracht (currently on Top Chef Masters) : Roasted Pork Belly with watermelon salad

Taste of the Nation '09, MyLastBite.com
Jar’s Crispy Roasted Pork Belly

Taste of the Nation '09, MyLastBite.com
Animal’s Amberjack, Nectarine, Jalapeno, Citrus and Mint

Taste of the Nation '09, MyLastBite.com
My favorite dessert in Los Angeles! Mozza’s Butterscotch Budino (with the rosemary pinenut cookie on the side). It’s sweet, it’s salty and the cookie crunch make it perfection!

Taste of the Nation '09, MyLastBite.com
Mozza’s Nancy Silverton in photo.

Event Date: Sunday June 14, 2009

Share Our Strength / Taste of the Nation

Los Angeles Regional Food Bank

Los Angeles Coalition to End Hunger & Homelessness

Suzanne Tracht on Top Chef Masters

Akasha  |  Angeli Caffe  |  Animal  |  Bazaar

Beso  |  BLT  |  Church & State (website error)

Craft  |  Fig  |  Ford’s Filling Station

Fraiche  |  Gelato Bar  |  Grace  |  Jar

Katsuya  |  Mozza  |  Rivera  |  XIV Michael Mina

All my Taste of the Nation ’09 Photos on Flickr

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Filed under Food Events (festivals, classes, etc.)

Nobu

Nobu LA, MyLastBite.comPeter and I haven’t been to Nobu IN YEARS, but we used to love going to Matsuhisa (also in the Nobu family) on dates when we first met. As a matter of fact, it was in Matsuhisa’s dining room where my sweet husband proposed to me back in 1994.

While reading a recent issue of Bon Appetit magazine, I was pleasantly surprised to read that Nobu (in Los Angeles) was on a list of America’s Top 10 Sushi Spots. 

Bon Ap’s Andrew Knowlton wrote:

“Twenty-two years after he launched a raw-fish revolution with his restaurant Matsuhisa, pioneering chef Nobu returns to America’s capital of sushi and opens another branch of his empire. Expect all the trademarks—Hollywood A-listers, cutting-edge design, and signature dishes, including yellowtail sashimi with jalapeño, black cod with miso, and rock shrimp tempura with butter ponzu.”

We had a wonderful evening rediscovering why we fell in love with Nobu’s food (way back when), and also reminisced about those precious date nights too!

Nobu LA, MyLastBite.com
Nobu sign (in front), Shishito Peppers and Edamame.

Nobu LA, MyLastBite.com
Yellowtail Sashimi with Jalapeno.

Nobu LA, MyLastBite.com
The famous Miso Glazed Black Cod with hajikami. (I still LOVE this)

Nobu LA, MyLastBite.com
Rib-eye with crispy onion, Lobster Inaniwa salad with spicy lemon dressing.

Nobu LA, MyLastBite.com
Rock Shrimp Tempura w/ Spicy Aioli and Salmon with Yuzu and Sesame.

Nobu
Website
903 North La Cienega Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90069

(310) 657-5711

Bon Appetit’s Favorite Sushi Spots

Nobu LA, MyLastBite.com
The ever-present TMZ out front of the restaurant!

Paparazzi at Nobu (identities protected) just like TMZ!
Identities protected (thanks Peter!)

Dining date: 3/19/09

Nobu on Urbanspoon

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Filed under Eating Out

Bokado (now closed)

Bokado is a new Spanish restaurant, bar, and gourmet market, conveniently located ten minutes from my home in Studio City. I first read about it on LATimes.com last month, then added it to my lengthy “to do” list.

Bokado Brasserie, MyLastBite.comThe LA Times wrote:
The casual space blends the comfortable grace of a Basque asador (grillery and roast house) with a congenial full bar where updated pintxos (tapas) include spicy patatas bravas, artisanal cheeses and oysters Rockefeller.

When my husband Peter came home early from work last week, we decided to go out for a light dinner and drinks, because it was way too hot to cook, and almost too hot to eat! 

Bokado, which means “little bites” in Basque, sounded perfect. When we arrived, the outdoor patio tables were already filled, so we went inside (where it was nice and cool) and grabbed seats at the bar. The interior is modern but also really charming, with the small gourmet market (or gourmet counter really) at the entrance.

Bokado, MyLastBite.comAs we walked in, we couldn’t help but stop and admire the red-hot standing Berkel slicer near the front window. Someone once told me that the reason chefs prefer this motorless, hand-cranked meat slicer is because the blade doesn’t heat up when slicing paper-thin pieces of meats like prosciutto. On electric-powered slicers, the blade can become too hot, which in turn changes the flavor of the meat.

After we settled in our seats and ordered, I noticed that Bokado owner Frank Leon was in the house, graciously stopping at every table to say hello. Frank also owns La Loggia, a nearby Italian restaurant that we’ve gone to for years, and next to La Loggia is a tapas bar conveniently called “Next Door”, which Frank owns as well.

The tapas (or pintxos) we had at Bokado were delicious and filling, but we still need to go back for a full dinner. I really liked the bar atmosphere because it was light and relaxing, so I’m sure we’ll be spending a lot of summer evenings there with friends.

On our way out, we stopped to take a closer look at the goodies for sale at the cute, little market. The entire back wall was stacked with gorgeous baguettes, and the refrigerated display case held bottles of truffle oil, cheeses, meats and small containers of imported ingredients including quince paste. I like the flavor of quince because it’s not overly sweet, but have never purchased the paste to use at home.

When I asked to buy a container, the gals behind the register couldn’t find a price list anywhere, because as it turned out, they weren’t ready to actually SELL any of the market items yet! Peter and I just laughed and said we’d pick it up on our next visit, but owner Frank overheard the conversation and insisted we take home the quince paste as a gift. Thanks Frank!

Bokado Brasserie, MyLastBite.com
The Entrance. Outdoor patio area is to the right (see first photo above)

Bokado Brasserie, MyLastBite.com
Gourmet Market

Bokado, MyLastBite.com
Goodies!

Bokado, MyLastBite.com
Charming Decor

Bokado Brasserie, MyLastBite.com
Bar Menu

Bokado Brasserie, MyLastBite.com
Beer List

Bokado Brasserie, MyLastBite.com
Roasted Olives and Chilies. 

Bokado Brasserie, MyLastBite.com
Mac and MANCHEGO Cheese, Chicken Croquettes

Bokado Brasserie, MyLastBite.com
Charcuterie with Pan Con Tomate

Quince Paste from Bokado Market, MyLastBite.com
My Quince Paste!

Note: This restaurant is now closed

Bokado
12345 Ventura Blv.
Studio City, CA 91604
(818) 752-9222
Full Bar
Note: Bokado is open for breakfast and lunch too!

(no website)  

Bokado on LATimes.com

Berkel

La Loggia

About Pintxos

About Quince

More photos of Bokado on Flickr

Bokado on Urbanspoon

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Filed under Eating Out

Casa Vega

Casa Vega restaurant in Sherman Oaks has always meant “pure comfort” to me. Peter and I have been regulars since 1994 (when I moved from San Diego), and for years we ate there at least once a week. That was before the smoking ban came into effect (not that either of us ever smoked), and before hungry patrons were forbidden to drink cocktails outside.

They’ve never taken reservations, and back then we didn’t mind sitting out in the waiting area for an hour or more, because the covered patio felt like an extension of the inside bar. We always had the same drink; Two large “Tres Generaciones” Margaritas on the rocks.

After making our way into the actual bar, we’d wait a bit longer and loved watching the crowd. It was such a wild mix of people: Studio execs (like Peter), families with small kids, single gals and guys on the prowl, and a fair share of San Fernando Valley’s aspiring porn stars.

Our favorite tables were (and are still) one of the wall booths in the back right, larger dining room. If you’ve never been, and like people-watching, they’re well worth waiting for. From there, you can keep an eye out for whoever is coming into the dark room, and over the years we’ve spotted (to name just a few); Jennifer Aniston (several times, pre and post Brad), Mickey Dolenz from the Monkeys, and the one and only (“give-me-another-margarita-so-I’m-brave-enough-to-say hi”) George Clooney.

After settling in our booth, we never had to pick up a menu or actually order our food. The waiter would look at us and say, “One Casa Vega salad, one carnitas combo to share, flour tortillas, and a chile relleno on the side, right?”

Our love for the restaurant extends throughout our family. When my brother Greg visits from Scotland, the first place he wants to go in ALL of Los Angeles (straight from the airport) is Casa Vega. It’s legendary even in far away Bridge of Weir and Glasgow, although like most locals he refers to it as simply, “Vega”.

On the afternoon of 9/11, like everyone, we were glued to our television re-watching the footage and listening to a frightened America shut down. Our good friend and neighbor, Nelson, was with us and we sat around in tears, holding our dogs and feeling helpless.

After awhile I just got angry and didn’t want to sit home and cry anymore. I jumped up and said, “That’s IT… we are NOT going to stay here and be afraid… we’re going to Vega”. Thank goodness they were open. It was early (5pm or so) and there were only a few other people in the bar. Slowly, the restaurant started filling up and although the mood was somber, the camaraderie in the room made it okay to be out getting drunk and socializing on such a horrible, tragic day. Nothing could take away the shock of what happened earlier in the morning, but that meal at Casa Vega was one of the most comforting I’ve ever had.

Admittedly, the food isn’t pretty to look at, but it is ooey gooey delicious. We’ve spent many a crowded Cinco de Mayo there and no matter what the occasion, we never stray from our favorite dishes: One Casa Vega salad (a crisp tortilla with chorizo, spiced beans, lettuce, tomato, beets and parmesan cheese), one Carnitas combo to share (tender pieces of seasoned pork, served on a bed of shredded lettuce with freshly made pico de gallo), flour tortillas, and a chile relleno on the side. And of course at least two “Tres Generaciones”Margaritas on the rocks. Now, that’s pure comfort if you ask me.

My Favorites at Casa Vega, MyLastBite.com

Casa Vega
13301 Ventura Blvd (at Fulton Ave)
(818) 788-486
Website

Cinco de Mayo 

Bridge of Weir, Scotland

Tres Generaciones Tequila

My brother Greg

Our friend Nelson

More Vega Photos 

Dining Date: Since 1994

6 Comments

Filed under Eating Out, Food Stories (written by me)

Kogi

The Kogi Taco Truck made me miss being in my twenties. Especially over the last couple of months, since I started following their Twitter updates on my cell phone. Late at night I’d be in bed reading a book, and have to stop so I could see the incoming Twitter text: “10PM-2AM@The Brig – Abbot Kinney and Palm in Venice”. I couldn’t stop wondering, “Who ARE these people partying EVERY night of the week, chasing down the Kogi taco truck at 2AM?”

It was sort of depressing, because I wanted to be out there chasing the truck too, but then again, I didn’t want to be OUT THERE chasing the truck (or chasing anything for that matter). The Alibi Room in Culver City actually runs a Kogi kitchen (monday thru saturday), but still, I had no desire to fight rush-hour traffic and wait in a ridiculously long line, just for a TACO. 

I admit it, at 45 years old, I’m definitely more of an OpenTable, “reservations a month in advance” sort of eater these days, but of course, that wasn’t always the case.

Twenty-Something, MyLastBite.com

Shortly after I turned twenty-one, I moved to Pacific Beach in San Diego, then spent the next couple of years partying non-stop with my friends. Our days consisted mostly of working in retail during the day, sunning ourselves on our days off and planning “girls night out” EVERY single night of the week.

Most of us were on pretty tight budgets, but we knew which beach bars served free “happy hour” food (drinks bought by the fellas), and it usually consisted of nachos, taquitos or plates of bacon-topped potato skins. Remember when potato skins were the cool, new appetizers?

Roberto's Taco Shop, MyLastBite.comOur favorite drinking holes back then were places like the Beachcomber or the Pennant, and we never missed a Tuesday $1 Margarita night at Diego’s on Garnet Avenue. Quick trips to Mexico for cheap lobster and margaritas were followed by dancing all night at the local clubs.

These nightly adventures always ended with a trip to Roberto’s Taco Shop in Mission Beach, which was steps from the shore, next to the aging Big Dipper roller coaster. The giant, carne asada burrito was my favorite and I always ordered it with extra guacamole. I can’t recall ever eating there during the day, or going there sober for that matter, but back in the day, Roberto’s Taco Shop was MY Kogi.

All-You-Can-Eat Kogi Event, MyLastBite.comIf you’re not familiar with Kogi BBQ, then you probably don’t live in the Los Angeles area. The first time I read about Kogi was on an EaterLA/Lesley Balla post back in December (boy, do I miss her on Eater these days). Ever since then, Kogi has been the “it” taco truck in the city, offering the flavor of spicy Korean barbecue, conveniently wrapped in a fresh tortilla. Kogi gained even more followers when they started using Twitter to communicate upcoming locations with their customers. It was a simple (and brilliant) way for Kogi to keep in contact with hungry, usually late-night, eaters.

All-You-Can-Eat Kogi Event, MyLastBite.comLast Thursday, I just happened to be reading the Kogi website, when I noticed a post titled, “What 20 Bucks Can Buy You”, and was thrilled to learn that it was for a fundraiser in nearby Burbank the same evening. The Gina Alexander Philanthropy Project partnered with Kogi to offer All-You-Can-Eat Kogi tacos for $20, with the proceeds benefiting the Center of Hope Village (for abused children) in the Philippines.

I called Peter and made sure he could make it home early so we could finally try the now-famous Kogi tacos together. Just last week the Kogi truck had been on the Fox lot where he works and he hoped to try it then, but the line was just too long for a my workaholic husband, who doesn’t like to break for lunch anyway.

We arrived at the event 30 minutes early, and after paying our $20 donation (each), we headed for the Kogi truck line, quite pleased to be very close to the front. It was another hour before the truck actually showed up, but there was plenty of entertainment to keep us occupied (photos below), and we didn’t mind because it was all for a good cause.

Peter and I both ordered two Korean Short Ribs and one Spicy Pork. The All-You-Can-Eat Kogi Taco offer, was limited to three at a time, which made sense because when I looked back at the line behind us, there must have been at least 150 hungry people waiting on the street. 

The tacos were terrific (LOVED the spicy pork), and we were content with the three that we tried. Of course if we didn’t have to get back in line and wait again, we would have definitely made it a furious pig-out session, but mostly it felt good to make the donation (Peter later told me he slipped them another $20), and to FINALLY get a taste of the Kogi phenomenon!

Afterwards we headed home, took our pups for their evening walk, and then I fell asleep next to my husband reading my favorite, new book. And guess what? I was tickled pink, NOT to be in my twenties again.

All-You-Can-Eat Kogi Event, MyLastBite.com
Peter saving our spot in the Kogi line

All-You-Can-Eat Kogi Event, MyLastBite.com
DJ Derek Basco entertaining the kids (and us grown-ups too!)

Wrestling at GAPP Event, MyLastBite.com
Waiting for the wrestling event

All-You-Can-Eat Kogi Event, MyLastBite.com
The Kogi Taco Truck arrives!

All-You-Can-Eat Kogi Event, MyLastBite.com
Peter almost up to order… and check out the line behind him.

All-You-Can-Eat Kogi Event, MyLastBite.com
The Kogi Truck menu

All-You-Can-Eat Kogi Event, MyLastBite.com
Korean Short Ribs and Spicy Pork!

All-You-Can-Eat Kogi Event, MyLastBite.com
GAPP founder (Gina Alexander Philanthropy Project) Gina Alexander, with Kogi owners Caroline Shin-Manguera and Mark Manguera.

Upcoming All-You-Can-Eat Kogi Taco dates: 

Thurs, June 25
Thurs, July 30
Thurs, August 27
You must rsvp for your name to be placed on the list.
Email/RSVP or Get more info by contacting
gapp@ginaalexander.com

More Kogi photos on Flickr

Mentioned Above:

Kogi Website

Gina Alexander Website

Center of Hope Village in Philippines

Kogi on Twitter

About Twitter

The Alibi Room

All-You-Can-Eat Kogi Event Info

Eater L.A. – Lesley Balla on Kogi

Lesley Balla currently writes for Tasting Table

OpenTable

Eater LA

My current, favorite book (that I’m reading again)

With Peter

Our Pups

Roberto’s Taco Photo Courtesy of David C.

The Pennant Bar

The Beachcomber

Dining Date: 4/30/09


Kogi Korean BBQ on Urbanspoon

13 Comments

Filed under Food Events (festivals, classes, etc.), Food Stories (written by me), Food Trucks